Comprehensive Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Jonathan Wu
Edited by James Peirce
Lifespan: AD C. 189–?
Birthplace: Fuchun County, Wu Prefecture (Presently Fuyang, Zhejiang Province)
Relations: Sun Jian (father); Lady Wu, Wu Guotai (mother); Liu Bei (husband); Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Sun Yi, Sun Kuang (brothers); Sun Luban, Sun Luyu (sisters); Sun Lang (half-brother); Lady Sun (married to Hong Zi), Lady Sun (married to Pan Mi) (half-sisters); Sun Ben, Sun Fu, Sun Hao, Sun Yu, Sun Jiao, Sun Huan, Sun Qian (cousins); Liu Shan (step-son)
The Lady Sun (1) was the younger sister of Sun Quan, the later Emperor of Wu, and the consort of Liu Bei, the Emperor of Shu (2). After the battle of Chi Bi, Liu Bei was allowed to borrow Nan Commandery from Sun Quan, and later in the year AD 209, the Lady Sun was given to Liu Bei as a consort by her brother Sun Quan.
1: The name of the Lady Sun is not mentioned in the texts of Sanguozhi. Some incorrect translations have allotted the name Sun Ren (孫仁) to the Lady Sun, but this Sun Ren is actually Sun Lang, one of her brothers. I am not sure of the origin of Shang Xiang as her personal name, but neither Sanguozhi Shu, containing the bios of Liu Bei’s wives and consorts, or Sanguozhi2: The Lady Sun was the third daughter of Sun Jian, and the only daughter of Lady Wu. She had two older half-sisters, who were given in marriage to officer of Sun Quan.
By this time, the Lady Wu was probably in her early twenties, and a woman of pleasant appearance and unique character. She immediately took control of Liu Bei’s household, and took the guardianship of the young Liu Chan, whose mother had already died (3). Liu Bei went on to conquer the south of Jing Province, and later moved into Yi Province.3: According the Zhao Yun Biezhuan, the Lady Sun was accompanied by as much as a hundred female retainers and bodyguards, all bearing arms. Liu Bei was not happy with those people and assigned Zhao Yun to watch them. The bodyguards were said to be arrogant and disrespectful, but Zhao Yun’s authority changed that. Wether or not the Biezhuan is correct about Zhao Yun’s role, the biography of Fa Zheng in Sanguozhi adds that the Lady Sun had the courage and energy of her brothers, and that she was indeed accompanied by female guards.
In the year AD 211, the Lady Sun was contacted by agents from Wu. She stole away with the heir, Liu Shan, and attempted to return to the lands of Wu. Zhuge Liang was aware of this, and sent Zhao Yun to stop her. After what must have been a tense exchange, Zhao Yun successfully recovered Liu Shan (4), but Lady Sun continued to Wu where she remained from that point on.4: Taken from Zhao Yun’s Biezhuan, the Lady Sun wanted to kidnap her step son, and was aided by a military unit from Sun Quan. Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun moved in to stop her and negotiated a settlement. How much is true about this event is hard to say. I have decided to leave out the dramatics of Luo Guanzhong, which can be found in Romance, Chapter 61.
According to Romance, the Empress Wu aided the Later Ruler [Liu Chan] in his rule, especially after the death of Prime Minister Zhuge Liang. Her strong personality resembled that of her father and brothers, and her relationship with Liu Bei and his son became the subject of many folk tales and dramas (5).5: De Crespigny mentions many of them in Generals of the South; Longfeng Chengxiang (Happy Augeries of the Dragon and the Phoenix), Longfeng Pei (Dragon and Phoenix Match), Meiren Ji (Strategm of the Beauty), Ganlu Si (At the Sweet Dew Temple), Luhuatang (Ambush at Luhuatang), Hui Jingzhou (Return to Jing Province).
Copyright © 2002–2006 Jonathan Wu. All Rights Reserved.
Major Sources: Zhongguo Lishizhu – Professor T.Chen (1965 Peking)
annotations from Wu Jianxiang dachen nianbiao and Wu Li
Generals of the South – Rafe de Crespigny